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Open Access Research article

Parental palliative cancer: psychosocial adjustment and health-related quality of life in adolescents participating in a German family counselling service

Franziska Kühne1*, Thomas Krattenmacher1, Corinna Bergelt2, Johanna C Ernst2, Hans-Henning Flechtner3, Daniel Führer4, Wolfgang Herzog5, Kai v Klitzing6, Georg Romer1 and Birgit Möller1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, Hamburg, 20246, Germany

2 Department of Medical Psychology, University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistraße 52, Hamburg, 20246, Germany

3 Department Of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Otto-von-Guericke University, Leipziger Str. 44, Magdeburg, 39120, Germany

4 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medical Centre, Augustenburger Platz 1, Berlin, 13353, Germany

5 Department of Psychosomatic and General Clinical Medicine, University Medical Centre, Im Neuenheimer Feld 325, Heidelberg, 69120, Germany

6 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics, University Medical Centre, Liebigstraße 20a, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

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BMC Palliative Care 2012, 11:21  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-11-21

Published: 30 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Parental palliative disease is a family affair, however adolescent's well-being and coping are still rarely considered. The objectives of this paper were a) to identify differences in psychosocial adjustment and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among adolescents and young adults with parents suffering from palliative cancer or cancers in other disease stages, b) to relate psychosocial adjustment and health-related quality of life to adolescent coping, and c) to explore significant mediator and predictor variables.

Methods

Cross-sectional data were derived from a multi-site research study of families before child-centered counselling. N=86 adolescents and young adults were included, their mean age 13.78 years (sd 2.45), 56% being female. Performed analyses included ANCOVA, multiple linear regression, and mediation analysis.

Results

Adolescents with parents suffering from palliative cancers reported significantly less total psychosocial problems, and better overall HRQoL. There were no significant group differences regarding coping frequency and efficacy. Our set of coping items significantly mediated the effect of parental disease stage on psychosocial problems and HRQoL. Further, parental disease status and general family functioning predicted psychosocial problems (R2adj =.390) and HRQoL (R2adj =.239) best.

Conclusion

The study indicates distress among adolescents throughout the entire parental disease process. Our analysis suggests that counselling services could offer supportive interventions which focus particularly on adolescent coping as well as family functioning.

Keywords:
Palliative care; Adolescents; Psychosocial adjustment; Health-related quality of life; Coping